News just broke that the Tampa Bay Rays have come to terms with 27-year-old third baseman, Evan Longoria, on a contract that will make him the highest-paid player in franchise history. The Rays were able to sign Longoria to a franchise-friendly deal after his rookie campaign of 2008, but as he enters his last guaranteed year in 2013, Tampa Bay wanted to make him a Ray for life, which they have successfully done.
Longoria agreed to a six-year/$17.5 million contract with options for 2014, 2015, and 2016 before hitting .272/.343/.531 with 27 homers and 85 RBI en route to helping the Rays reach the World Series for the first time. He’s due to earn $6 million in 2013, and Tampa Bay holds options at the bargains of $7.5, $11, and $11.5 million. The deal they’ve agreed upon is an extra six yearson top of those three options, keeping him with the organization until 2022, as well as an option for 2023. The extension is worth $100 million, giving Longoria an average annual value of $16.6 million once he takes the field in 2017.
The Mets have been using Ryan Zimmerman‘s six-year/$100 million extension with the Nationals last winter as a benchmark in negotiations with David Wright, and it’s clear the Rays did the same thing with Longoria. When New York made their initial offer to Wright, it was rumored to be approximately six-years/$110 million,while David’s representation is looking to get a seventh year guaranteed. Will this latest deal for a cornerstone player at the third base position help or hurt the Mets in their ongoing negotiations with Wright?
Sam and Seth Levinson have been pointing to Zimmerman’s deal, which essentially was an eight-year/$126 million deal if the last two years of his current contract is added onto last winter’s extension. In Longoria’s case, this is a ten-year/$148.5 million contract. Zimmerman will be 35 by the time the guaranteed years on his deal are done, and Longoria will be 37. If Wright ends up agreeing to an extension for six years and worth approximately $115 million, that would make him a Met for the next seven seasons (including his 2013 option for $16 million), at a total price of $131 million, giving him an average annual salary just shy of $19 million.
When it comes to negotiations and who gets the upper-hand, I think the Mets will be able to use this to their advantage. Both Zimmerman and Longoria will be locked up for more years than Wright, but he’s older than both of them, and the proposed extension will take him to the same stage in his career as his two fellow third basemen, but at a higher annual value.
We’ll see how this plays out over the next week and a half before the Winter Meetings, but this latest agreement to an extension should spur more progress in talks towards getting a deal done. We know Wright has voiced his desire to be a Met for life, and now that he’s seen two players similar to him get those kinds of deals, it’s likely he wants this done more than ever. Let’s hope the Levinsons and Mets can find a middle ground and agree on an extension so everyone can move on to fixing the team’s other various needs.